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Is coaching giving advice?

“Not that old chestnut”, I hear you say. Well, yes actually, because the pendulum seems to be swinging back again. Plenty of experienced Managers and Coaching Thought Leaders (of serious renown) are saying that Coaching can be about giving advice if that’s what the person being coached (or person who has asked for some help) would like.

Those purists that say that Coaching is NOT about giving advice are right, of course. The whole essence of classic Coaching is to help someone figure something out for themselves by facilitating a conversation, using good questions, to help unblock that person’s thinking.

By bringing a fresh pair of eyes (belonging to the Coach) to a problem, there’s an immediate change in perspective and it’s that ‘freshness’ that can be the catalyst for different thinking and a clearer path to the next steps.

And yet, more and more Coaches are telling me that it’s not about the integrity of the process it’s about the outcome. So, if someone comes to you wanting the answer or suggestions about what to do next, don’t deny them access to your knowledge and experience, be prepared (and happy) to share it.

Don’t start with the intention of being the source of the answers to people’s problems. You want to help people, of course, but often that’s best achieved by working with them to arrive at a solution that they can own. If it’s their suggestion they adopt, and they believe in it and want to make it work, they’re more likely to see it through and deliver.

I’ve been faced with countless situations where the person I’m working with doesn’t know what to do – after all, that’s usually why they’ve come to you!! Confronting this person with a barrage of ‘What do you think’ questions is simply going to frustrate them. After a while your credibility will ‘go south’ too.

Much better that you let them know that you’ve got some ideas and ask them if they want to hear them. No one has ever said ‘NO’. The key is to get them to evaluate the ideas that you have in the context of their situation.

Don’t simply tell them ‘I think you should do …’ Share your thinking (or experience) and then ask how that might work in this different situation. Be prepared to play ‘devil’s advocate’ and challenge them about the differences between their situation and yours, so that they make the decision about whether it will work for them.

Coaching is not about keeping secrets or trying to catch someone out. It’s all about helping people feel better about themselves and a situation that they face – and that’s really all there is to it. Yes, you want to make people more resourceful for themselves but more importantly you want to support people moving forward not hold them back.

If you share your knowledge in a facilitative way – not a directive one – then the person that your’re working with will develop because they’ll go through the process with you.

If you want to know more about developing the coaching skills in your organisation contact me here: 

… confident, caring, knowledgeable; handled the team dynamics very well; informative and fun.

Tailored advice and feedback to the individuals and teams as he got to know us better; personal.

Great at defusing tricky situations.

Respectful and caring Educator and a wonderful individual.

Extremely good facilitator of many discussions, valuing everyone in the group.

Clear presenter; good at bringing across the material.

Very good facilitator; great listener and a great sense of humour.

On a personal level I felt it was the first time that I had been able to draw a breath and think about all you discussed since the start of Covid. So, a huge thank you, the content, slides, interaction on chat etc was all brilliant.

Special kudos to him for creating the psychological space that enabled the group to publicly share feedback

In addition to the training material itself, Hans was able to provide deeper answers on specific topics that came from more experienced managers.

Super confident, had answers for everything or helped find them. Really, good. Pretty impressed!

Great speaker, leaving sufficient space for attendees to get involved in the discussions

Hans was an engaging facilitator and was able to both answer questions expertly and cultivate a healthy dialogue including the whole room.

Good sense of humour, effective at delivering content and soliciting questions from the audience.

Hans did great job in involving people to have discussion about the various issues instead of just presenting them, much appreciated!

Clear, engaging and committed to helping us – amazing facilitator